Walden slams Speaker Pelosi for upending bipartisan progress and regular order
WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) slammed the “raw partisan politics” displayed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the unveiling of a secretive bill that upends a history of bipartisan progress and regular order at the Energy and Commerce Committee.
“We have a proven, bipartisan track record on the Energy and Commerce Committee of addressing these issues, just like we are with surprise medical billing, if they’ll just let the committee process work,” said Walden during a press conference today. “But, instead, this thing is created in a completely partisan way, in the back rooms of the Speaker’s office so they can put out their talking points and score their political points and leave the American people hanging, because this is not going to become law. But maybe that’s what they want. It’s cynical. It’s wrong. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Earlier today all 24 Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee criticized Speaker Pelosi for putting “politics over progress,” and called on Democrats to work with Republicans in a bipartisan manner to bring down drug prices for the American people. Walden repeated that call during an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing today.
During today’s press conference, Walden highlighted the history of results delivered for the American people by bipartisan policy from the Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden implored Democrats to stay true to that history, and not go down this path of partisanship that Walden described as “cynical” and “wrong.”
Walden speaking at press conference today
I’m really frustrated. I’m really upset. It doesn’t have to be this way. We have a President of the United States in Donald Trump – unlike any I’ve seen before, of any party – who’s willing to lean forward and take on this issue. I was with him in the Roosevelt Room in the early part of his administration, the first year when he had the CEOs of pharma companies in there and he told them ‘I want you to get your drug prices down and I mean it.’ He has never let up on it. There’s an opportunity to get a bill to the White House and signed into law to help the American people.
Last Congress, and the one before, the Energy and Commerce Committee worked in a bipartisan way to achieve meaningful reform in a lot of areas. Look at our work on 21st Century Cures, to invest in medical research and cures for people. These diseases don’t pick you by your party or background; they strike us all in our families. The 21st Century Cures law is having an impact. We rewrote America’s mental health laws for the first time since the last bill John Kennedy signed before he was assassinated. We did that together. We rewrote all the approval processes at the FDA for drugs – whether it’s generics, or pharmaceuticals, or medical devices – we did it unanimously in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Under Dr. Scott Gottlieb and under the new law, the FDA approved 971 generic drugs, more than any year in prior history. Competition in that field makes a huge difference for consumers.
As you heard already, we passed CREATES unanimously out of the committee – that says the pharmaceutical companies can’t game giving out their samples to the generics, so that you can get to the generics. We passed that unanimously. We did the same with pay-for-delay, where they prevent generics from coming to market. That came out of committee unanimously. We’ve done a lot of this work with the great brain trust on the Energy and Commerce Committee on both sides of the aisle.
I just implored with my colleagues there today, at least give us a copy of the bill for God’s sake. They’ve already announced a hearing, they did it last night to cut another day off for our ability to review it. They haven’t even filed the bill yet, they’ll probably do it later today. We’re going to get one witness at a subcommittee to do a complete rewrite of America’s prescription drug laws. That’s no way to legislate. It doesn’t have to be this way. They are blowing the opportunity to get a bipartisan bill before the American people. Just as they did on CREATES, just as the did on pay-for-delay, I am sure they loaded this thing up with enough bad policy to appease their socialist left to make sure we can’t support it.
We have a proven, bipartisan track record on the Energy and Commerce Committee of addressing these issues, just like we are with surprise medical billing, if they’ll just let the committee process work. But, instead, this thing is created in a completely partisan way, in the back rooms of the Speaker’s office so they can put out their talking points and score their political points and leave the American people hanging, because this is not going to become law. But maybe that’s what they want. It’s cynical. It’s wrong. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I implore my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee on the Democratic side, at least share the bill with us. They said they would if they’d seen it or had it. They have disarray in their own conference on this issue and in the committee. The American people expect us to act. Just as we are doing on surprise billing, just as we’ve done on these other issues I’ve outlined before, we are prepared and ready to do that and be full-fledged, bipartisan partners to achieve meaningful results that the President of the United States would sign into law. We did it on opioids. We’ve done it over and over again. This is simply raw partisan politics and it needs to stop.